Murmurs over Rymbai cabinet

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Shilong
  • Published 20.06.06
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Shillong, June 20: Meghalaya chief minister J.D. Rymbai appears confident of making the new Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) ministry last its full term under his leadership, but voices of discontent over the ?non-inclusion of some Youth Congress MLAs? into the cabinet have begun to surface.

Rymbai has a year-and-a-half to go as chief minister and leader of the MDA government before the state goes to elections in early 2008.

Of the team of 12 ministers in Rymbai?s ministry, nine belong to the Congress, while three are from regional parties like the United Democratic Party (UDP), Meghalaya Democratic Party (MDP) and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM). These parties are coalition partners in the MDA. Another coalition partner, the Hill State People?s Democratic Party (HSPDP), does not have any representation in the cabinet.

The nine Congress faces in the new-look MDA ministry include chief minister Rymbai, Robert G. Lyngdoh, Brening Sangma, Chitlang Pale, Prestone Tyngsong, E.D. Marak, Sengrang Sangma, Manirul Islam Sarkar and Irene Lyngdoh, the lone woman minister. Rymbai, B. Sangma and Pale were part of the previous ministry under D.D. Lapang.

A section of Congress workers, however, does not appear too happy with the non-inclusion of young party MLAs like Zenith Sangma and Charles Pyngrope. While Sangma is president of the Meghalaya Youth Congress, Pyngrope was instrumental in taking forward the campaign to oust Lapang.

Soon after the swearing-in ceremony of nine of the ministers at Raj Bhavan last evening, a number of Congress workers, some of them from the party?s youth wing, could be heard saying that the two ?should have been taken in?. Zenith Sangma had been accommodated into the Lapang ministry little more than a month ago, following the resignation of Beckstar Sangma. The latter was allegedly involved in a controversy over misappropriation of development funds in the Garo hills.

?We will take up this issue as we feel our president and also Pyngrope deserved to be in the ministry,? a Congress worker said. ?This is just the beginning and we have a long way to go.?

Though none of the Congress workers were willing to be quoted, they hinted that it would take some time for the dust kicked up by the recent controversy over Lapang?s leadership to settle.

Sources close to the Meghalaya PCC felt ?Rymbai would have to do a lot of explaining,? before the party got back together as one unit.

Zenith Sangma and Pyngrope, when asked for their views, preferred to play safe and said they were more interested in ?ensuring that the party is first priority,? and that ministry and power are secondary. Both said they would extend full support to the ministry under Rymbai.

but if what sources close to the mpcc are to be believed then it appears that rymbai may have to weather similar hiccups at least till the time he has not proven his leadership abilities as leader of the congress legislature party and chief minister of the state.